Join us on Easter Sunday, April 16th at 10 a.m. for our Eucharist. We will celebrate our Risen Lord with lovely music, meaningful worship, and a festive coffee hour after the service.
Our Episcopal heritage has many things to commend it, but particularly noteworthy is our Book of Common Prayer. We are familiar with it since it is used for Sunday worship, although for visitors, it can be a challenge to figure out “where we are” at some points in our service.
But did you know that there is a wealth of other material in there, too? Historical documents, the Catechism, a calendar of the church year, Morning and Evening Prayer, Daily devotions for families, and lots of special services such as those for Ash Wednesday, Easter Vigil, and the Penitential Order are all contained in this lovely book.
“But wait! There’s more!” If you turn to page 810, you’ll see a long list of Prayers and Thanksgivings. While some of these may be inserted into the Prayers of the People on a Sunday, generally these heartfelt, well-composed prayers are not often used. Prayers for the world, the Church, national life, the social order, creation, and family life are all contained here.
I especially like the prayers between pages 821-827, and utilized many of those recently at an Evening Prayer service on January 19, the eve of the inauguration of our new President. I was amazed, as I read through this section, how timely the prayers are and the comfort they bring in this time of uncertainty.
There is one prayer that I overlooked, however, and I’m including it in the Prayers of the People this Sunday:
Prayer 39. For those who Influence Public Opinion
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I encourage you to explore the Book of Common Prayer on your own. You’ll find the entire contents online for free at bcponline.org, or you can buy a copy for personal use for as little as $8 on Amazon.
by Beryl Simkins
Jim Donovan is known among us at St. Francis for his ready smile and friendly demeanor, and also for his enthusiastic involvement in the work and activities of our church. Jim grew up in a large and loving Roman Catholic family and was nurtured in an environment that encouraged an early interest in a spiritual vocation. Jim began his early adulthood in the Jesuit Novitiate in Santa Barbara, where he grew in faith and spirituality. Although he was to follow various other diverging paths in his lifetime, he remained true to those early beginnings throughout his life, living what he had learned and, as he said, “finding God in all things.”
Jim was the first of five children in a large, Irish, Catholic family in Sacramento, adopted into this wonderful family when he was 3 months of age. He had one brother and three sisters who were also adopted, and Jim said that he always felt loved and wanted growing up in this family. Jim noted that he never thought about being adopted in the early years of his life because he felt so much a part of this loving family. Jim’s father and mother were devout Roman Catholics living their life faithfully, according to the beliefs of their church. Jim’s father was to become a Deacon in the church after his retirement from a career in real estate. Jim attended Roman Catholic grammar schools run by the Sisters of Mercy and Presentation Sisters from South Cork, Ireland, and later went to a high school run by the Jesuits. Jim spent his summers in Siskiyou County after the age of twelve, with a Catholic priest known by the family who had been given the task, “to shape him up.” It is hard to imagine what was meant by that, knowing Jim as we know him today. During his high school years, Jim remarked that he was particularly inspired by the Jesuits and “fell in love with their ideals.” It was at that time that he made the decision “to serve God in a special way.” After graduating from high school, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Santa Barbara to begin the twelve year formation process for the priesthood. (Jim noted that this is the largest Orders of Roman Catholic Priests, and that the current Pope is a member of this Order.)
After a short but life changing period of time with the Order, Jim made a very difficult decision to leave. He had experienced the long retreat, (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius), with the first principle and foundations, the Two Standards, and Principles for Obtaining Love, and although he chose to leave, he feels to this day that he is “one of the privileged few who received this roadway of living more deeply.” It was difficult to tell his family that he was not going to become a priest and difficult to follow through on this decision. Jim was never to tell his great aunt who was a Dominican sister of his decision to leave the Jesuits because he felt it would have been so disappointing and upsetting for her. She never know in her lifetime about the choice he had made.
During the time while he was with the Jesuits, Jim had been doing his college work at Loyola University. The Jesuits are a teaching order, and Jim had been slated to be a math teacher. He was to leave the University and finish his degree in statistics at Santa Clara University. During the time at Santa Clara University, Jim met the woman who was to be his first wife. After receiving his degree in statistics, Jim taught math for two years in San Jose. Eventually Jim was to change his vocation somewhat and began working in construction. He worked for a factory that fabricated steel buildings, and has been in that field ever since, working for different companies in different roles, and in various locales. Jim moved to his current location in Atwater fifteen years ago.
Jim has been a single father since his son, Mike was ten, and his daughter, Elizabeth was fifteen. Elizabeth is now twenty-seven, and works for Thurston County in Washington, and is finishing her degree at the University of Washington. Michael is now twenty=two. He graduated from Humboldt University last year, and is now in New York City working toward a Masters Degree in Music at Queens College. Jim noted that he had gradually drifted away from the Roman Catholic Church after his children received the sacraments.
Jim met his current spouse and “love of his life,” Jenny Ann, ten years ago. Prior to getting married, they sought a sacramental church where they could both attend. Jim said, “We attended service at St. Francis and after being so warmly welcomed and received by Deacon Don Rees and the rest of the community, we have found our new faith community. “ They were married one and one half years ago, and have been with us since that time and we are all very grateful for their presence.
Although he left the Order, Jim is exceedingly grateful for his time with the Jesuit Novitiate in Santa Barbara, an experience that has profoundly impacted his entire life. He still arises at 4:15 AM most mornings and practices the daily examinem, and often says the evening breviary prayers. Jim noted also that he still has a deep appreciation for Magnum Silencium, (grand silence), and for Suscipe, (the prayers by St. Ignatius Of Loyola). Conversely, he still fears “Pater Magister vult te videre,” (Father Master wishes to see you and it may be over something you have forgotten to do, or it may be because “Brother, I don’t think you have a vocation as a priest.”) He also has a dread of the thought of Exercitium Caritatus, which was a traumatic revealing of a novice’s shortcomings in which a novice was called to kneel in front of other novices who would name his shortcomings and faults. His profound spiritual experiences as part of the Order of Jesuit Novitiate has been a mainstay in his life, and is exemplified in his faithful service to the ideals that he learned during his tenure there.
by Beryl Simkins
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of biographies of members of St. Francis Episcopal Church. We are grateful for Beryl’s commitment to do this!
If you are interested in reading more about Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit Order, or learning about the wonderful spiritual practices that are available to all, visit the website: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com. I highly recommend their six-session series, “The Lunchtime Examen” which explores the practice of a daily accounting and commitment of our life to God.
Blessings, Rev. Kathie+
The 57th Annual Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin is scheduled for Friday, October 28th and Saturday, October 29th. For the first time in many years, Convention will be held at the Episcopal Conference Center in Oakhurst, also known as ECCO. All members of St. Francis are encouraged to attend. The keynote speaker on Saturday will be The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the assistant to the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, and author of Radical Welcome. You can find more information such as the schedule and a registration form on the diocesan website: diosanjoaquin.org.
Oakhurst is a lovely drive through the Sierra foothills, less than two hours from Turlock and is very close to the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park. Why not spend the weekend, or just a day in this wonderful setting and learn more about your Church?
On Sunday, October 9 at 10 a.m. we will welcome our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. David Rice and our new Canon to the Ordinary, The Rev. Anna Carmichael to St. Francis. Bishop David will preach and Canon Anna will celebrate Communion. The Rev. Deacon Carolyn Woodall from St. James, Sonora, and The Rev. Jude Hill, SSF are also expected to attend. During the service, we will offer to bless any animals who attend with their caretakers. Everyone is invited to bring pets of any species to church that day. Please use appropriate measures to keep your pet secure, such as leashes for dogs, goats, and sheep, and carriers for cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, turtles, tarantulas, etc. Horses, cows, elephants, and other very large animals will have to be blessed outside due to space restrictions. As always, all are welcome!
Sermon for Sept. 18, 2016: 18 Pentecost (Proper 20) Year C preached by The Rev. Kathie Galicia
The Parable of the Dishonest Steward
Last Sunday, we heard about the lost sheep and the lost coin, and I mentioned that Jesus liked to use the element of surprise, even shock, to capture his listeners’ attention. Today’s reading from Luke is another good example of that kind of a parable. The main character in Jesus’ story is not a very nice man. He is a dishonest steward, working for a rich man who learns that his manager is squandering his wealth. He is very good at thinking of sneaky ways to make money, and he comes up with a scheme that will save his bacon when he is thrown out on his ear.
Hearing this parable reminds me of a story I heard from Brian Terrell, who has been supportive of the HUB ministry in Stockton. That’s the group that Deacon Steve Bentley started as a ministry of St. John’s. The Hub provides bicycles to people who have no other means of transportation and who cannot afford to purchase a new bike. The staff collects donations of old bicycles and parts and assembles them into usable vehicles. Deacon Steven needed to get rid of a bunch of junk in order to make room for more useful items, and Brian stepped in to provide him with a big dumpster. Knowing that downtown Stockton is not always the safest place to leave things of value, the container was fitted with extra security in order to prevent the recyclable material from being stolen. Even with these extra measures, Deacon Steve found that someone managed, working diligently through the night, to overcome an eight-foot-tall cyclone fence and break into the container, stealing anything that might have any value.
Using intelligence, creativity, and hard work, thieves managed to thwart the formidable security of good people who are trying to make life a bit easier for those who have very little. We see this in the world of cyberspace, too, as we have all learned to be cautious of computer hackers who put their intelligence, creativity, and hard work into stealing information from good people who work hard to earn a living and contribute to society.
Like the dishonest steward, there are still people in the world who use their gifts not for good, but for criminal purposes. After learning that his job is in jeopardy, he calls in all of his master’s debtors. Notice how devious he is from the way he calls each of them in separately; he does not want them to talk to each other and compare notes. The dishonest steward makes each debtor an offer that is hard to refuse: he tells one to knock off 50% from his bill, and another to take off 20%. In his world, giving deep discounts to those who are indebted to his master is the solution to losing his job; he figures that they will be so grateful, they will take him in. He will never be in want for a decent meal, at the very least.
But here is the shocking part of the story: the landowner actually praises the dishonest manager for thinking up this scheme! Wouldn’t you think that the master would be enraged that his profits were being reduced even further by this dishonest man whom he had just fired? But no; as Jesus tells the story, the master commended the steward for his shrewdness, for “the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” While this seems a little obscure, the next thing Jesus says seems quite clear, but is, once again, a bit shocking. He says, make friends for yourself with worldly wealth, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into your eternal home. It almost sounds as though Jesus expects us to bribe each other with money or services in order to ensure our survival not only in this world, but in the next!
I don’t think this is what Jesus wants us to believe. Rather, I think that Jesus is making a comment on the lack of shrewdness in his own disciples. He knew they were lambs in the midst of wolves! Christians should show the same enthusiasm for thinking up honest ways to advance the kingdom of God as that dishonest steward did in maintaining his material comfort. In other Scriptures, Jesus makes it clear that we are expected to use the material wealth we gain in our lifetime to benefit others who are not as fortunate. In the Gospel of Matthew, for example, Jesus advises us to “store up our treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21) Jesus wants us to use material things as things, and not to make them into idols that distract us from taking care of each other. In this way, the dishonest manager was very wise, because he knew that by taking care of his master’s debtors, they in turn would take care of him.
As the parable in this passage from Luke closes, Jesus offers several more thoughts about wealth. He stresses the importance of taking responsibility for our material possessions. If we mismanage small amounts, we will never be trusted with anything more. But if we are faithful and honest in using what we have, we will gain even more. Jesus implies that our faithfulness in the area of money will be rewarded.
Jesus urges us to use our money wisely so that the eternal treasure of God’s kingdom is readily available to us when our earthly riches become useless. Money is a tool, without which we cannot function in this world. But if we make money more important than people, we can be sure that when we reach the end of our lives, we may die materially wealthy but we will be very, very lonely.
Jesus recognizes the danger that material wealth poses for each of us. There is a very real danger that our possessions may actually take possession of us! Jesus warns us that no one can serve two masters because we will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. This is strong language when we consider that Jesus is talking about God and wealth. He actually uses the word “mammon” to describe wealth, which seems to give it a very real personality and presence. Mammon is a word that would be recognized by anyone in Jesus’ time who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic; it is a word that conjures up the image of a false god. Some things have not changed very much in two thousand years; there is still a tendency in human beings to allow material wealth and possessions to become our master, a master that captures our attention at the expense of our love and devotion to God.
It takes a conscious effort to avoid the trap of mammon. To give our devotion and love to the Lord means having to recognize that all we have, all our worldly possessions and material wealth, come from God and belong to God. We are the stewards of God’s possessions. By managing them wisely, we can hope to be entrusted with what Jesus calls “the true riches” that we will receive when those worldly riches become useless to us. I don’t think Jesus wants us to emulate the dishonest manager in order to get to heaven. But perhaps we can try to remember that in spite of all our hard work and dedication to the process of earning and keeping money, in the end we, like that manager, will need to let it go and recognize our one true Master, Jesus Christ.
Requiescat in pace
The Rev. Donald J. Rees
April 10, 1925-April 11, 2016
Our beloved friend and faithful Deacon Don Rees passed away peacefully at home early on Monday, April 11th, just a day after his 91st birthday.
We are honored to host Don’s funeral at St. Francis on Tuesday, April 19th at 10:00 a.m.
There will be a viewing (with closed casket) at the church on Monday, April 18 from 4-7 PM. You are welcome to come to pay your respects and greet Don’s family.
The Funeral Service is Tuesday, April 19 at 10:00 AM. The Rev. Joel Miller will officiate, with Rev. Kathie Galicia assisting.
Following the funeral, there will be a graveside service at Lakewood Memorial Park, 900 Sante Fe Avenue, Hughson, CA 95326
A Reception will follow at the Assembly of God Annex (next to the church), 150 North Pasadena, Waterford CA (at intersection of Pasadena & Yosemite Roads)
We hope that you can be there. Please allow time for parking and seating. We are expecting to have a very large turnout.
Holy Week 2016
March 20: Liturgy of Palm Sunday; Sunday of the Passion service at 10 a.m.
March 22: Chrism Mass; Renewal of Ordination/Baptismal Vows; Holy Family Episcopal Church, Fresno, 11 a.m.
March 24: Maundy Thursday; Footwashing and Eucharist at 7 pm.
March 25: The Way of the Cross at 6 pm, followed by the Liturgy of Good Friday at 7 pm with Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament
March 26: The Great Vigil of Easter at 7:30 pm; Bp. David Rice will preside and preach. Members of St. Paul’s, Modesto will join us; light refreshments following the service.
March 27: Easter Sunday Festival Eucharist, 10 a.m.; coffee hour follows the service; Easter Egg hunt for the children
After months of having no viable website, our new episcopalstfrancis.org is up and running! This is a work in progress; please check in frequently to see new pages and read new posts! We’d like to add a photo page, and imbed a Google Calendar into our site so that we can keep up with events at St. Francis and around the diocese. Stay tuned!